Bharli Vangi chi Bhaji- Stuffed eggplant in Maharashtrian spices

A flavorful burst of spices and taste, perfectly packed in eggplants, makes a soul-satisfying meal with rice or roti.

My first introduction to bharli vangi was years ago in a small homestay we did in Kashid (a small laid back town rich with nature, beach, culture, and above all, the best Maharashtrian flavors). We went there for a weekend and stayed in tiny cottage 5 minutes walk from the beach. The caretakers of that cottage were a loving couple in their late sixties (I guess)- the husband loved to tend the cottage’s garden, and the wife loved to cook for the guests.

The best part was the surprise menu she picked according to the fresh vegetables she picked every day from local vegetable vendors. The foodie in me loved this concept and looked forward to every meal she was going to present. We ate the best homemade chakli with chai as an evening snack the day we arrived there. Those chaklis still have my heart. Our dinner that night was Malwani prawn curry with rice which literally made my tummy and heart smile in bliss.

Now let’s come to the highlight of the stay- Bharli Vangi. Let me be honest here, I am not a fan of eggplant/ brinjal in any form. My mom cooked eggplant in every fashion possible to ensure some of it found a way into my stomach, but none of those ways was a hit. So when I heard our lunch menu the first day, “stuffed baingan,” I was exactly pumped with that news. But I was so wrong. And I am so glad I was wrong. It was one of the best food I have ever had! The balance of masalas with flavors of sesame, coconut, peanuts, and a hint of jaggery perfectly balancing the spices- ohhhh, the best!

I had to take the recipe from her, and she was more than happy to share it with me. Although the measurements in her recipe were more from her judgment than from a cookbook. I have tried to bring closer to accurate measurements after lots of trials. After lots of experiments, I am sharing the ratios that worked best for me.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • Eggplants: 500gms
  • Oil- 2tbsp
  • Cumin n- 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
  • Hing (aesofitida)- a pinch
  • Onion: 1
  • Tomato- 2
  • Garlic- 4 cloves
  • Ginger- 1/2 inch
  • Green chilli- 2 (optional)
  • Corriander leave- 1 bunch
  • Sesame seeds (white)- 3 tbsp
  • Dry coconut (powder or dessicated)- 4 tbsp
  • Peanuts- 4 tbsp
  • Chilly powder- 2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder- 1tsp
  • Tamarind- 1 piece (or tamarind paste- 1 tbsp)
  • Jaggary- a pinch (or 1/2 tsp)
  • Salt- 2 tsp or as per taste

Method

Wash eggplants and pat dry. Cut a slit into each eggplant and put it in water immediately to prevent browning. Make sure you don’t cut the eggplants in half. We only need an opening to stuff the filling.

Heat a pan. Dry roast sesame seeds, peanuts, and dry coconut powder separately.

Let them cool. Remove the skin from roasted coconut.

Add roasted sesame seeds, peanuts, coconut powder, garlic, ginger, half the coriander leaves, tamarind pulp, and green chilly in a grinder and dry grind to a fine dry paste-like mixture.

Take out the mixture, add chilly powder, turmeric to the mixture.

Fill in the mixture into each eggplant and keep them aside. Save the rest of the mixture.

Heat a pan. Add oil and let it heat.

Add mustard seed and cumin seeds and let them splutter.

Add hing to it.

Now add chopped onion and saute for 2 minutes.

Place in chopped tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are soft and mushy.

Pour in the rest of the masala left after filling and mix well.

Place the stuffed eggplants in the pan, add some water, salt and cook covered for 3-4 minutes or until eggplants are cooked.

Remove the cover, add jaggery, and mix once.

Remove from flame, top with fresh coriander leaves, and serve hot with roti or rice.

Enjoy!

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